BIG NEWS: American Express blocks multiple sign-up bonuses, starting immediately

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American Express unveiled massive changes to its UK card sign-up bonuses last night.

This will effectively end card churning for most people.

Before I go on, I want to stress one thing.  The new rules on bonuses do NOT stop you applying for any of these cards.  They simply influence whether or not you will qualify for a sign-up bonus when you do.

It is also worth remembering that, even if YOU no longer qualify for a particular bonus, your partner or other adult family members might.

American Express restricts UK sign up bonuses

What is changing?

Until today, American Express sign-up bonuses followed two basic rules:

Cards were grouped into families based on reward type (Membership Rewards points, Avios, Starwood points, Nectar points) and your eligibility for a bonus depended on whether you had recently had a card in the same ‘family’

There was a six month restriction in place between cancelling an American Express card and being able to re-apply – with a new bonus – for a card in the same ‘family’

This is what is changing for the personal American Express cards:

The concept of ‘families’ has gone for most products.  The eligibility rules now span ALL personal American Express cards in most cases.

The look-back period increases from six months to 24 months

Whilst there are two exceptions, in simple terms you cannot get a sign-up bonus on a personal American Express card if you have held ANY personal American Express card in the last 24 months.

Are there any exceptions to these new rules?

Yes.  There are a few exceptions to the above:

The British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card is only impacted by the change in the look-back period to 24 months.   The old rules on eligibility remain – you cannot have had either of the two British Airways American Express cards in the previous 24 months BUT American Express does not count any other card you may have had.

(In plain English: if you’ve had a Platinum / Gold / Starwood / Nectar / Platinum Cashback card in the last two years, but NOT either of the BA Amex cards, you are eligible for the bonus on the Premium Plus card – but not the free BA Amex)

The Platinum Card is only impacted by the change in the look-back period to 24 months.   The old rules on eligibility remain – you cannot have had a Preferred Rewards Gold, Green, Platinum or American Express Rewards card (all of which earn Membership Rewards points) in the previous 24 months BUT American Express does not count any other card you may have had.

(In plain English: if you’ve had a BA / Starwood / Nectar / Platinum Cashback card in the last two years but NOT a card offering Membership Rewards points, you are eligible for the bonus on the The Platinum Card – but not Preferred Rewards Gold)

Small Business and Corporate products are not impacted at all.  The existing rules apply for those.  Importantly, the six month rule continues to apply for these cards.

(In plain English: if you’ve not had any personal or business card offering Membership Rewards points in the past six months, you are eligible for the bonus on the American Express Gold Business and American Express Platinum Business, assuming you own a qualifying small business)

American Express scraps UK sign up bonuses

Can you summarise this by card?

Here you go:

If you currently have the free British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus credit card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways, British Airways Premium Plus, Preferred Rewards Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, American Express Rewards, American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business card in the previous six months and meet the qualifying criteria for having a small business

If you currently have Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card or American Express Rewards credit card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways American Express, Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on British Airways Premium Plus IF you have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months

You would need to cancel and wait six months before you can get a bonus on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business, assuming you meet the qualifying criteria for having a small business

If you currently have a Nectar or Starwood Preferred Guest credit card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways American Express (free version), Preferred Rewards Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on British Airways Premium Plus IF you have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, American Express Rewards, American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business card in the previous six months and meet the qualifying criteria for having a small business

If you currently have a Platinum Cashback or Platinum Cashback Everyday card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways American Express, Preferred Rewards Gold, Green, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on British Airways Premium Plus IF you have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous six months

Discussion of the American Express sign-up bonuses changes continue in a further articles here.

Reference information

Here are links to our reviews on each of the cards, a link to the application website and the legally required interest rate information:

IMPORTANT: Note that the reviews have not been updated with the new bonus rules yet

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – apply here  – our review is here – representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit

American Express Rewardsapply hereour Amex Rewards review interest rate varies depending on which card variant you choose

British Airways American Expressapply hereour BA Amex review – representative APR 22.9% variable

British Airways American Express Premium Plus apply hereour BA Premium Plus Amex review – representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, interest rate on purchases 22.9% variable

Nectarapply hereour Nectar Amex reviewrepresentative APR of 28.2%, including £25 fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200

The Platinum Cardapply hereour Amex Platinum review

Platinum Cashbackapply hereour Amex Platinum Cashback review – representative APR of 28.2%, including £25 fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200

Platinum Cashback Everydayapply hereour Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday review – representative APR 22.9% variable

Starwood Preferred Guest American Expressapply hereour Starwood Amex review –  representative APR 39.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit

American Express Gold Businessapply hereour Amex Gold Business review

American Express Platinum Businessapply hereour Amex Platinum Business review

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. the other side to this coin, is there should be better redemption availability. while credit card bonuses have been very fruitful for earning points, other routes often appear i.e. iberia 90k. I didn’t partake in that one last time, but going forward, points might take a little more effort but have greater value.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You forget the points game is huge in the USA and they print Avios like confetti. 5x per $ etc we are merely picking up chump change

  2. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Well, I’ve completed two referrals today. Will do another two tomorrow (all legit, not self referrals) and then that is it for me and Amex for quite some time once all the points have posted. I just don’t get enough from them to justify the fees.

    I’m in the market for a long term card…. come on Hilton. Sort it out.

    • The other Kevin says:

      4 referrals in two days – Who are these people ?

    • Gold – two MR spent on travel, still get offers (although rebates less) 1 MR everyday spend. I’d be tempted to keep a foot in the door of amex if it costs me nothing. You can always jump ship when something else arrives.

  3. Taylor says:

    Do you think a dip in revenue and card referrals over the next for months will make them think again?

    I imagine there will be plenty of people who are no longer going to be putting their day to day spend through amex once they have finished with their current card. We practically put all of our disposable income through amex save for where it’s not accepted. I would guess at least £20,000 a year.

    • The other Kevin says:

      If a lot of Hpf readers are using a BAPP 2-4-1 voucher for Club World each year, then they are generally collecting 150,000+ Avios, so losing 60,000 from two referrals just means using the 2-4-1 every 18 months instead. It’s not the end of the world and where else can you get 1.5p value ?

      • Paul Stevens says:

        Exactly. I had a BAPP for the past five years and only recently decided to churn a gold card (great timing as usual). In past years it took about 18 months to generate enough points to get a business class return (+ 241) so if anything I’m pleased with this news. It means I don’t have to keep applying for credit cards and maybe the availability will go up.

    • Doubt they will backtrack on changes, however, if business is more adversely affected than they anticipate then we may see other incentives. Remember those MR and avios bonuses last year for spending £XXX; possibly a trial run for things to come. I’m holding onto my three amex cards but spending nothing until I receive some encouragement. Meantime I will spend on IHG and Hilton.

      • Bonglim says:

        I certainly think some kind of increase in bonuses. Look
        At the us bonusses, there has always been a gap between the two because UK card holders could churn, now that gap should be smaller in one way or another.

        Amex’s entire system (in the UK) is related to its rewards. It will surely reinvest some of the money saved into the scheme in one way or another.

  4. Short Amex

  5. Good while it lasted, but like they say, all good things…
    One interesting knock on impact for me is referrals that happened while talking to people about this hobby. Over the last 2/3 years I would say between my wife and I we have referred some 15/20 people, and (frankly despite my advice) all but maybe one has just kept the card and spent on it. So while I have no doubt been costing AMEX money, I have introduced a load of people that they probably love! This will mostly be over for me now as I will not hold an AMEX most of the time I suspect.

    • The other Kevin says:

      Are referrals stopping then as well ? And what are you going to churn instead ?

    • Mike Wilson says:

      @AndyW, the referral process isn’t stopping so why not continue referring and earn Avios that way? If you can refer that many people, why not get an Amex Platinum as you get 18k points per successful referral? Yes, it comes with a £450 annual fee but you can get value from that if you travel enough and refer 3+ people per year.

      • I will probably still have a plat sometimes and do some referrals, but I’m not going to be holding an Amex all the time for sure. I also can’t in good faith be telling people they can earn business class flights really easily as the game just got harder it is what it is, but just an interesting side effect.

  6. I cancelled my Amex gold charge card in Jan 2019. I currently have a BA Amex card and a SPG Amex card. Would I be able to apply for the platinum International currency card and receive the bonus? Is that now included in the family or is that still separate to the Amex UK cards?

    • Anyone????

      • Try it and see.. what more do you have to lose?

        • Well my credit rating would go down a bit and then I’d have to pay the exorbitant annual fee of £450 and put a spend of £5000…..no point in doing all the above if I’m not going to get the bonus.

    • Qwerty Bertie says:

      What would you do with the points though? Unless used for Singapore Airlines, you’d be getting lower value per point than with the normal UK card.

    • Previous comment said that you could get the ICC still, as they don’t look at UK history. I’m planning to do the same before my summer US trip (using 241 on Virgin…. 😁).

  7. Ready Eddy says:

    Does anyone know if I’d qualify for a bonus on the SPG card if I applied now? I’ve had BAPP for many years (never churned) and also currently have Amex Gold.

    Apologies if this has already been answered in comments but I’ve read through as many as I can and can’t see an answer.

  8. So I just received my Platinum card this week – will I get the bonus?

  9. RogerC says:

    So how difficult and/or expensive might it be to set up in such a way that I could apply for, and then potentially churn, an Amex business card?

    • I have a limited company and plan to do this but need to ditch my Gold and BAPP asap and then wait months. Will look at putting the Mrs on as a second Director so I can refer her going forward.

      • 6 months*

        • My wife has a small business (sole trader) and uses a separate standard current in her own name (not the trading name). Would this count or does the bank account need to be in the trading name?

  10. BA announces new club world seat- start planning how to churn to get enough avios

    Amex pulls the plug..gives up dream of trying new club world seat.. #1stworldproblems

    • The other Kevin says:

      All those lovely empty new club seats when everyone dumps their Amex. Maybe BA will come out with their own card. Oh hang on…

      • Dominic says:

        Do you think avios users at BAs main market for CW seats?….

        • Bonglim says:

          I think that the Avios system makes BA an absolute shed full of money!

          Now it will make less. Far less.

  11. my partner had a gold card c.5 months ago and referred probably 5 people just before she closed it. I was waiting for the 6 months to end and then she was going to open the Amex Plat.

    My question is – if she opens the Amex Plat, does that “restart” her referral max for the year? Ie – if the max is 90k points per year for referrals, if she opens the plat card will she be able to make 5 new referrals to get the 90k or will some of her potential referral points have already been used by the gold card she had a while back??

    • anyone got any ideas on this?

      • Shoestring says:

        Short answer: no, she still only has 90K per calendar year, per unified Amex account, where they can see you are the same person with different cards. I think Amex join together addresses & names etc, so even when you have a different online a/c, eg this often happens with SPG, they can see you are the same person so the 90K limit applies.

        If you had different details, such as address, it might not be so obvious I guess.

        • very helpful – thanks very much

        • TGLoyalty says:

          If the MR account was closed when she cancelled her card 5 months ago (which is should have been) then the 90k limit is reset

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